Although The Flash in a Warner Bros. shared movie universe may still be little more than a hope, The CW will be testing public interest when they bring Barry Allen to his very own TV series, after helping bolster the cast of Arrow Season 2. While some might see that as a consolation prize, the writers and executive producers of the show feel differently.
Early signs have pointed to a more traditional take on the comic book speedster - from costume to character details - and the latest comments from Arrow executive producer Andrew Kreisberg (who will be taking point on the Flash series) imply that the assembled team planning The Flash's live-action debut are more confident than ever.
It didn't take long for the announcement of a Flash TV series to get tongues wagging, sparking debate over the shortlist of actors in the running before Glee alum Grant Gustin landed the coveted role. Speaking with FlashTVNews, Kreisberg explained that selecting Grant Gustin to bring 'The Flash' to life wasn't quite as difficult a decision as they might have expected.
"We met with a lot of other really talented people. Not just talented, but good guys, and it was funny, because as each of us – Geoff [Johns] and Greg [Berlanti] and I — were working on individual scenes, we all sort of came together and said ‘we’re all writing Grant.’ It was just him.”
Fans will likely reserve judgement until the episodes in question air, but with Geoff Johns - DC Comics' Chief Creative Officer and one of the most influential, forward-thinking and critically-praised comic book writers in decades - backing up Gustin as a fit for the character, we'd say he gets the benefit of the doubt for now.
And while some might be skeptical about introducing a character as strong as Barry Allen in another hero's series, Kreisberg believes that the strategy is a major benefit for those charged with writing The Flash down the line:
“With Arrow, we wrote it without anybody in mind. This time, as we were writing these episodes, we cast Grant in the middle of it.
“That was different, because now when we go into writing the actual pilot in Episode 20, we already have our guy, and we’ve already seen him on the screen, so hopefully we’ll actually literally be able to look at things and learn."
So what can fans expect when Barry Allen comes into Oliver Queen's stomping grounds in the first half of Arrow Season 2? With his first appearance in Episode 8, and a follow-up in Episode 9 now finished, Kreisberg offers a few teases on the dynamics that will be formed, potential flirtations (or even love triangles?,) and a bit of hero-envy from the forensic scientist:
“Episodes 8 and 9… it’s been really interesting to write those, because you literally have those two characters in the same show. In some ways it actually may be easier because you can say ‘That’s something Oliver would say; it’s not something Barry would say.' Barry has a very easy relationship with Felicity, because Barry is a forensic scientist, and he’s young, and he’s a little bit socially awkward like she is, so there’s a lot of fun with that.”
“Barry’s a fanboy. He comes to Starling City and he says to Felicity, ‘so I heard the vigilante saved you. What’s he like?’ So I think for Barry, it’s one of those things where it’s sort of like ‘be careful what you wish for.'"
— Stephen Amell (@amellywood) September 27, 2013
The announcement that The Flash would be uniting with Green Arrow on TV screens sent the hopes of every Justice League fan soaring, but with the task of introducing Barry, developing him pre-superpowers, and writing what Kreisberg confirms will be a backdoor pilot for his own TV show coming in Episode 20, an authentic team-up between the pair of heroes is at least a season away.
For now, the showrunners maintain that the fantastic side of The Flash won't be eroding the grounded, realistic tone of Arrow. But Kreisberg's slight details on what might send Barry Allen back to Central City hint that the same grounded style might not be the plan for The Flash's own series; beyond Barry, that is:
“If you look at the Justice League, you have Superman and Aquaman and Wonder Woman. You have all these gods. And then you’ve got Barry Allen, who’s just a guy. That’s, I think, why the character appeals so much to Greg and to Geoff and to me, and it’s also why he’s a really good fit to the world of Arrow, because while we’re obviously introducing some fantastical concepts to things, we want to still keep the show as grounded and realistic as possible.
"So I think that the events that happen to The Flash, and what’s going on in Central City… I think some people will be like ‘that’s not happening. There must be an explanation for it.’ Barry’s a good guy, and he’s seen that it’s possible to put on a mask and change the world.”
It's far too soon to discern what Kreisberg could mean by those comments, or what 'unbelievable' crisis might be affecting Central City (but then, a massive plot to erase part of a city was handled surprisingly well in Arrow). It IS the right time, however, to decide if a heightened, perhaps more 'comic book' mythology could work around a character as unique as The Flash.
What's your take? Does the relationship hinted at between Ollie and Barry scream small-screen success to you, or does the idea of blending tones down the road seem like an accident waiting to happen? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Arrow Season 2 premieres October 9th, 2013 @8pm on The CW.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.BBC Knew the 13th Doctor Who Would Be a Woman Before Capaldi Ever Left
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